Forbes Top 5 Outlawed SEO Tactics is Flawed

For newbies the Forbes article “Top 5 Outlawed SEO Tactics” may be worth reviewing as it offers some time-tested generalizations to keep you going down the right path. But, the question is for those of us who have been around the block for a while is it technically correct?

In a nutshell Forbes says these are bad SEO tactics that should never be used:

1. Link buying
2. Cloaking
3. Keyword stuffing
4. Hidden text
5. Being a seed for spam

Now, in regard to link buying Forbes only has it half right. They need to clarify when link buying is Okay and when it isn’t. Indiscriminate link buying on irrelevant sites may get your website penalized. However, buying a relevant link such as in the Yahoo directory, for instance will most likely help your website.

Cloaking is the act of showing the search engines one version of your website and your visitors a different version. This is done in order to game the search engines and increase rankings. This is mostly bad. However, in a bit of a gray area it is probably Okay to show broadband visitors one website, mobile visitors a similar website and the search engines should have access to both. A fine point, I know but worth noting.

In regard to keyword stuffing, how much is too much. Google and Bing/Yahoo won’t tell us the secret to their algorithms so we have to decide for ourselves what keyword density to use in our on-page optimization. Repeating the same keywords in the titles and meta tags however is probably a bad idea.

Hidden text is bad. It has been for I would estimate at least the past 8 years. Forbes has it 100-percent correct on this one. There is no good, logical reason to hide text that I can think of unless you’re up to no good.

Being a seed for spam is another gray area. I attended a Google seminar in Irvine, California and got to talk to many webmasters and companies who thrived on user generated content. Yes, you want to monitor what is said and what links are posted the best you can. But, what percentage of mistakes will lead to a penalty? This is anyone’s guess.

So, as I stated before, newbies would be wise to follow the Forbes advice. For more experienced SEO’s we’ll just have to experiment and use our best judgment and see where the chips fall. And when I say “experiment” I am not talking about live customer sites, but with our own test sites.

Google +1 Data for Search Rankings

The world’s largest search engine may soon being using its Google +1 button in order to prop up some of the search rankings. This move would be geared towards going more social and fighting spam.

According to Wired, “While not surprising, the move would bring Google’s search engine into the social networking era, while simultaneously creating a new avenue for blackhats to manipulate search results and potentially incurring the wrath of trust-busting authorities.”

This does raise a couple of questions that I’m sure that Google engineers and management are grappling with right now. First, is that for years Google has spoken about its “hands off” approach and letting the algorithm do all of the work. The manual manipulation of a social media button would have many implications as to the manual manipulation of rankings.

And, also as has been previously mentioned, black hat SEO’s will be busy at work trying to game the Google +1 system if this does have a large impact on rankings. This could have the opposite effect of how the search giant is intending it to be used.

On the positive side, however, it would give users a vote in filtering out spammy sites from the SERPs. How many times have you done a search and wondered why this or that website was at the top of the rankings when it should be on page 20?

From a user perspective this would be positive to be able to push up the quality sites in the rankings and thereby pushing down the lesser quality sites. So, the intent is good. We’ll just have to wait and see if there are enough checks and balances built into the system to add to or subtract from the user experience when implemented.

Yahoo Advertisers Being Ported Over to Microsoft This Week

According to Microsoft, Yahoo advertisers will be able to start porting over to their ads to the AdCenter interface starting this week. The full integration of the Yahoo Interface to the Microsoft interface won’t happen until the end of October, however.

This is a scary proposition for some advertisers as they don’t want this transition to impact the upcoming holiday season. If you’ve been around long enough you’ll remember the infamous Google Florida algorithm update just before the holidays in 2003.

Since then, Google and the other search engines have learned not to rollout major updates in November and December (Google has toed the line of this ever since).

Microsoft says that if the Yahoo to AdCenter transition doesn’t go as smoothly as planned that they will delay the full integration until the beginning of 2011 in order not the impact holiday sales.

What Would Google Do?

I recently took a look at this humorous t-shirts page, number 77 to be exact that says, “WWGD – What Would Google Do?” This got me to pondering how some people treat Google as if it were the “God of the Internet”, sort of like this almighty being that lives in cyberspace and passes judgment on which businesses succeed and which fail.

But, then I started thinking that if I were Google, what would I do? This is not as easy as it sounds. I just watched a video (I can’t recall where) of Matt Cutts stating that Page Rank was not all that important and that Google has over 200 other pieces to its ranking algorithm that helps it rank pages accordingly.

So, if I were Google and wanted to thwart the spammers, keep the SEOs off-balance and generally deliver excellent rankings I would take a few steps. Here is some of what I would do:

• Deliver inaccurate or incomplete results in the green PR bar of the Google Toolbar. This section is given too much weight anyway by the community, so what is the motivation to keep it accurate?
• Since there are only so many tools in the bucket in which to use to rank a page (on-page and off-page) I would periodically place some of these tools outside the bucket such as devaluing the weight some directories or social media sites. Or another idea is to devalue the sites for a while, hide the PR and then silently add them back into the algorithm.
• In addition, since there are only so many tools in the toolbox I would periodically swap the priority of the tools in order to keep those who wish to manipulate the rankings off-balance.

Anyway, those are my top 3 WWGD ideas. What would you do?

Google Logo Now 20-Percent Brighter Without Bleach

By now you’ve most likely noticed that the Google logo is now 20-percent brighter without using any kind of Internet bleach. It must be challenging for Google to keep its homepage clean and free of clutter and at the same time update its product to keep up with the times.

Marissa Mayer, Vice President, Search Products & User Experience, has been around since 1999 making sure the homepage of Google stays clean and yet is user friendly. The Google logo may change depending upon what special holiday is upon us or someone famous is having an important birthday but then it snaps back to the old logo again.

Along with Google’s new brighter and more colorful logo they have actually introduced a bit of clutter on their results pages. Now, when you do a Google search there is a bit of real estate taken up on the left side for a tab that says, “Everything” with a More below it and a tab that says “All Results” with a More Search Tools underneath it.

Google is attempting to give searchers more choices on how to search, putting a more powerful choice at one’s fingertips. Yahoo found out that when given more choices users tend to stay on the website longer and report a better overall experience.

It’s a fine line that Google is treading. One the one hand what makes it so attractive is the lack of clutter and the superior organic results it delivers. On the other hand, some people will want more powerful tools and options.

My hope is that Google stops the clutter creep. One of the original reasons people turned to Google in the first place is that Yahoo and other search engines websites were too crowded other information. Yes, I’m old school and prefer the Original Recipe Google to the Extra Crispy version.

Google Click to Call for Cell Phones

Some people like to communicate through email, others through texting. But nothing has beaten the telephone in talking one-on-one. This is why Google has just introduced the Nexus One based on the open source Android operating system.

In the past Google has rolled out click to call on their Maps section for local businesses. The search giant also introduced Google 411 service at 1-800-GOOG-411 in order to help consumers find local business via their landlines or cell phones.

Now, Google has decided to offer click to call through their Adwords ads delivered to the iPhone, Palm and Android phones. What this means is a cell phone user searching Google will see ads with a phone number. Users can then click on the phone number, which is routed through the Google servers for tracking and connected the business’s phone.

The business placing the ads only pay when someone clicks to make a phone call. And both business owners and their SEM’s know how important tracking is. Google click to call is yet another way to connect consumers to local businesses that otherwise may be lost.

Scraper Sites Can Help Your Website or Blog

Many webmasters, SEO’s and Internet business owners loath scraper sites. They believe that scraper sites take away business from their own website. Now, this can be a reality if a scraper site’s pages consistently rank above your own pages in the search engines.

In this case you can do a DMCA copyright request or do a Google spam request to have the pages removed. Some people worry that duplicate content on scraper sites will hurt their own web pages’ rankings. But, this only happens in a tiny percentage of the cases.

For the most part scraper sites help the original website. “What, did he just say that!” many are saying right now. Okay, not many, but maybe just you.

How scraper sites help is that first many of them will provide a link to the original article, thus giving your website or blog credit. Second, this link may provide a little link juice to your website. And, third if you have internal links to your other pages, this may provide added link juice as well.

For example, if a scraper site were to scrape this blog posting and I have an internal link to SEO Expert, which I do here to serve as both as an example and self-promotional purposes, then this will provide a little link juice to my main website.

Also if the scraper site would provide a link to this SEO Expert Blog I would receive even more link juice. As I am a fan of link juice (8 oz. or more in the mornings) plus the promotion and some direct traffic to my website or blog I couldn’t be happier with the scraper site.

The only time I would be unhappy if I were to believe that the other website or blog is so popular that visitors are staying on that site rather than traveling to my own. But, this is the trade off I’m willing to make for a higher position in the search engine rankings.

So to recap, in a global, general sense, scraper sites are good. Of course there will always be a few exceptions. But, I say embrace scraper sites as a compliment to your site. It tells people that your website is good enough to scrape and republish elsewhere and your website will most likely benefit from this endorsement.

Bing MSN Live But Where’s the Publisher Program?

It’s no secret that those who are frustrated with the lack of competition to Google’s Adsense publisher’s program want to know when Microsoft will step up to bat? Yahoo’s publisher program is by invitation only and has been in beta since August 2, 2005.

Windows Vista didn’t even take this long from beta to release. And yes, Microsoft does have its own beta publishers program, which is also by invitation only with no signs of going public soon.

Now while Google continues to spread its Adsense tentacles over the Internet, the engineers at MSN Live Bing or whatever the Microsoft product of the month happens to be can’t seem to come up with a workable publisher program.

After a couple of years of toil at Ask, they simple gave up trying and decided to sign a long term deal to deliver Google Ads on their searches. But, Microsoft has money and Microsoft has the engineering pedigree and presumably are still recruiting the best and brightest (that Google has obviously taken its chunk).

So where is the Bing MSN Live publisher’s program? Still in beta. Still struggling with geo targeting, IP addresses and getting enough advertisers to deliver targeted ads to websites. If the new search engine Bing picks up speed and starts to take a bite out of the Google and Yahoo traffic, then what? You still need advertisers and publishers to make a profit. And, it’s hard to believe that only one company started by two students at Stanford is the only business that able to achieve this goal.

Twitter Tweets Flitter Sweet

Twitter is hot right now and has been for a while. But, right now it is red hot as Twitter has gone mainstream. You know an Internet property has gone mainstream when Larry King and Barbara Walters are tweeting.

A couple of weeks ago Larry King and Aston Kutcher had an on air bet about who could reach 1 million followers on Twitter first. Yes, it was impressive that CNN with it’s name recognition and vast resources could squeak out a victory. But, what was more impressive is that one B-list celebrity could actually come in a close second.

Now, the rumor mill is flying about the possibility of AOL buying Twitter. Why not? What Twitter hasn’t done yet is monetize their website. Tweets are free and there is no advertising yet. But, expect this to change. There is way too much traffic and too much money to be made so advertising in inevitable.

But, tweets are sweet, so try it out if you have 150 characters or less of something to say.

LocalAdLink Complements SEO Services

LocalAdLink, which is a new and upcoming local ad search network, featuring over 200 high traffic websites and search engines is set to rollout to the public in a couple of weeks. SEO’s need to take notice and this can be considered a complimentary service that many optimizers can offer current and future customers.

LocalAdLink may not be a Google killer, but what it does offer is a broad reach that includes Google, Yahoo, Myspace, Facebook and even Boomj, which is owned by the mother company of LocalAdLink, Beyond Commerce. The mother ship also owns iSupply.com as well.

LocalAdLink is a zip code and IP address localized search appliance that includes the main website, LocalAdLink.com as well as the network of high traffic websites previously mentioned. This network also includes some specialty high traffic websites like Rollingstone.com and WallStreetJournal.com.

The reason why LocalAdLink doesn’t compete with SEO is that most of the LocalAdLink results show up in the paid listings of Google and Yahoo (competing somewhat with SEM’s not SEO’s) or for long-tail searches that can’t really compete with well optimized websites.

What LocalAdLink does well is offer customers of SEO’s a low-cost alternative. Some localized small businesses can’t afford thousands of dollars of upfront costs for SEO. So, for around $50 a month, the SEO can offer LocalAdLink to customers who need local Web traffic, yet without the steep bill.

Another advantage of LocalAdLink is that small businesses don’t even need their own website in order to have an online presence. This means they don’t have to hire web designers, web programmers and others just to get online and maintain their websites.

The advantage for many SEO’s is that they can offer both services at once. They can optimize a website for the customer and instead of costly PPC in the near term, they can offer LocalAdLink for customers that just can’t wait until the SEO kicks in and starts to generate revenue for the business.